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May 25, 2006
What is the Future of the Book?
A friend pointed me to The Institute for the Future of the Book because he's currently participating in the discussion around the creation of GAM3R 7H30RY by McKenzie Wark. I've just begun to explore both the site and the book project, and I'm obviously coming late to the process.
It appears to be an ongoing publication by Wark of his book, which happens to be on the subject of computer games and their potential for use as allegories to things in society. Unlike other versions of "publish online" that I've seen, this is much closer to "publish the manuscript online" and solicit readership, feedback, and commentary.
Writers, particularly new ones, are often encouraged and bouyed up by physical writer's groups, in which people co-critique works in progress. Some writing workshops/groups also include lectures from established authors and related well-known people in publishing. In SF/Fantasy, the Clarion SF&F Writers' Workshop is well known and has graduated a number of folk who have gone on to great success.
So, can this model work online? I'm dubious. One of the things that makes a good writers' group, and that makes Clarion the success it has been, is a rigorous screening process. You get into these things not just by having good intentions or a lot to say but by having valuable experience and insights to contribute. It's unclear to me how one filters the mass audience of the Web into something resembling useful wisdom.
On the other hand, perhaps a workshop is the wrong model. Maybe this is more like the writing of a massive wikipedia entry on games and game theory. One person writes most of it, but the audence participates in the edit and refinement process? It seems like that model might produce something more useful.
Anyway, check it out.
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